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Interviews with Historians about their New Books

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    • Society & Culture

Interviews with Historians about their New Books

    Evan Rapport, "Damaged: Musicality and Race in Early American Punk" (UP of Mississippi, 2020)

    Evan Rapport, "Damaged: Musicality and Race in Early American Punk" (UP of Mississippi, 2020)

    Damaged: Musicality and Race in Early American Punk (University Press of Mississippi, 2020) is the first book-length portrait of punk as a musical style with an emphasis on how punk developed in relation to changing ideas of race in American society from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Drawing on musical analysis, archival research, and new interviews, Damaged provides fresh interpretations of race and American society during this period and illuminates the contemporary importance of that era.
    Evan Rapport outlines the ways in which punk developed out of dramatic changes to America’s cities and suburbs in the postwar era, especially with respect to race. The musical styles that led to punk included transformations to blues resources, experimental visions of the American musical past, and bold reworkings of the rock-and-roll and rhythm-and-blues sounds of the late 1950s and early 1960s, revealing a historically oriented approach to rock that is strikingly different from the common myths and conceptions about punk. 
    Following these approaches, punk itself reflected new versions of older exchanges between the US and the UK, the changing environments of American suburbs and cities, and a shift from the expressions of older baby boomers to that of younger musicians belonging to Generation X. Throughout the book, Rapport also explores the discourses and contradictory narratives of punk history, which are often in direct conflict with the world that is captured in historical documents and revealed through musical analysis.
    Rebekah Buchanan is an Associate Professor of English and Director of English Education at Western Illinois University. Her research focuses on feminism, activism, and literacy practices in youth culture, specifically through zines and music.
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    • 1 hr 8 min
    Marion Turner, "Chaucer: A European Life" (Princeton UP, 2019)

    Marion Turner, "Chaucer: A European Life" (Princeton UP, 2019)

    More than any other canonical English writer, Geoffrey Chaucer lived and worked at the centre of political life—yet his poems are anything but conventional. Edgy, complicated, and often dark, they reflect a conflicted world, and their astonishing diversity and innovative language earned Chaucer renown as the father of English literature. Marion Turner, however, reveals him as a great European writer and thinker. To understand his accomplishment, she reconstructs in unprecedented detail the cosmopolitan world of Chaucer’s adventurous life, focusing on the places and spaces that fired his imagination.
    Uncovering important new information about Chaucer’s travels, private life, and the early circulation of his writings, Chaucer: A European Life (Princeton UP, 2019) documents a series of vivid episodes, moving from the commercial wharves of London to the frescoed chapels of Florence and the kingdom of Navarre, where Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived side by side. The narrative recounts Chaucer’s experiences as a prisoner of war in France, as a father visiting his daughter’s nunnery, as a member of a chaotic Parliament, and as a diplomat in Milan, where he encountered the writings of Dante and Boccaccio. At the same time, the book offers a comprehensive exploration of Chaucer’s writings, taking the reader to the Troy of Troilus and Criseyde, the gardens of the dream visions, and the peripheries and thresholds of The Canterbury Tales.

    By exploring the places Chaucer visited, the buildings he inhabited, the books he read, and the art and objects he saw, this landmark biography tells the extraordinary story of how a wine merchant’s son became the poet of The Canterbury Tales.
    Marshall Poe is the editor of the New Books Network. He can be reached at marshallpoe@newbooknetwork.com
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    • 53 min
    Stephanie Russo, "The Afterlife of Anne Boleyn: Representations of Anne Boleyn in Fiction and on the Screen" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

    Stephanie Russo, "The Afterlife of Anne Boleyn: Representations of Anne Boleyn in Fiction and on the Screen" (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020)

    In the centuries since her execution in 1536, Anne Boleyn’s presence in Western culture has grown to extraordinary proportions. In The Afterlife of Anne Boleyn: Representations of Anne Boleyn in Fiction and on the Screen (Palgrave Macmillan), Stephanie Russo describes the various ways in which her life has been interpreted and how these interpretations reflect the interests and developments of their respective eras. This process began with her contemporaries, who began memorializing her even before her death. That she was the subject of so much of their attention reflected in no small measure her prominent role in England’s adoption of Protestantism, which exerted a predominant influence in how she was interpreted for over a century and a half. As the controversies in England over religion ebbed in the 18th century the focus became more exclusively upon Anne as a person, as her activities and her relationships proved an enduring source of material for both novelists and playwrights. Russo shows how this interest as only grown over time, with Anne Boleyn’s life today serving as subject matter for everything from postfeminist novels to salacious cable television series – all of which help perpetuate our interest about this enigmatic and elusive figure.
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    • 50 min
    Bradford Pearson, "The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration and Resistance in World War II America" (Atria, 2021)

    Bradford Pearson, "The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration and Resistance in World War II America" (Atria, 2021)

    Many scholars have interrogated the incarceration of 120,000 Japanese-Americans during WWII – with an eye to understanding the particular type of racism that allowed the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt to punish based on heritage rather than any particular action or crime. Bradford Pearson’s new book The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II America (Atria/Simon and Schuster, 2021) provides a political history of the incarceration of Japanese-Americans during WWII by, first, going back in time to highlight the complex history of how Japanese (and Chinese) Americans first came to the West coast in the 17th century and the nuances of the racism they encountered over the centuries. Once Pearson establishes the origins of Anti-Asian-American racism, he follows several teenagers who played football both free and incarcerated. These nisei, American citizens of Japanese heritage, had their education and participation in a sport that has come to define what is “American” interrupted by the transports, relocations, and imprisonments that placed families in concentration camps across the United States. Pearson uses their role in a football team created in one concentration camp – Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Cody, Wyoming – to document racism and discrimination but also sports competition as a means of escapism and regaining dignity. Pearson, the former features editor of Southwest: The Magazine and a journalist who has published in the New York Times, Esquire, Time, and Salon, uses foundational works in history and political science, his own oral histories, government surveillance files, and archives associated with Heart Mountain, to create a relevant history for considering how we define citizenship in the U.S., the role of the legislature and courts in establishing and maintain white supremacy, American acceptance of incarceration based on race, and the importance of fully contextualizing American public figures such as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Earl Warren.
    Susan Liebell is an associate professor of political science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Why Diehard Originalists Aren’t Really Originalists recently appeared in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage and “Retreat from the Rule of Law: Locke and the Perils of Stand Your Ground” was published in the Journal of Politics (July 2020). Email her comments at sliebell@sju.edu or tweet to @SusanLiebell.
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    • 47 min
    Fabio Rambelli, "The Sea and the Sacred in Japan: Aspects of Maritime Religion" (Bloomsbury, 2018)

    Fabio Rambelli, "The Sea and the Sacred in Japan: Aspects of Maritime Religion" (Bloomsbury, 2018)

    In The Sea and the Sacred in Japan: Aspects of Maritime Religion (Bloomsbury 2018), Fabio Rambelli invites various fifteen scholars of Japanese religions to reflect on a well taken-for-granted fact: although the sea has always been a critical source of religious inspirations for Japan, the study of Japanese religions has chosen to turn its attention away from the sea and in the process, became essentially continental and landlocked. 
    In fifteen chapters, this edited volume re-centers the study of Japanese religions on the coastal peripheries and calls for a geo-philosophy of the sea, or, a thalassosophy. Rambelli reminds us that "there is no sustained study in the intellectual history of the sea in Japan," and in fact, "we know very little about Japanese conceptualizations of the sea, not only in religious thought, but also in cosmology and premodern scientific discourses." This edited volume is thus an attempt to fill this knowledge gap and is the first book of its kind to focus on the role of the sea in Japanese religions. 
    Daigengna Duoer is a Ph.D. student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. 
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    • 1 hr 13 min
    Robert Darnton, "Pirating and Publishing: The Book Trade in the Age of Enlightenment" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Robert Darnton, "Pirating and Publishing: The Book Trade in the Age of Enlightenment" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    In the late-18th century, a group of publishers in what historian Robert Darnton calls the "Fertile Crescent" — countries located along the French border, stretching from Holland to Switzerland — pirated the works of prominent (and often banned) French writers and distributed them in France, where laws governing piracy were in flux and any notion of "copyright" very much in its infancy. Piracy was entirely legal and everyone acknowledged — tacitly or openly — that these pirated editions of works by Rousseau, Voltaire, and Diderot, among other luminaries, supplied a growing readership within France, one whose needs could not be met by the monopolistic and tightly controlled Paris Guild.
    Darnton's book Pirating and Publishing: The Book Trade in the Age of Enlightenment (Oxford UP, 2021) focuses principally on a publisher in Switzerland, one of the largest and whose archives are the most complete. Through the lens of this concern, he offers a sweeping view of the world of writing, publishing, and especially bookselling in pre-Revolutionary France--a vibrantly detailed inside look at a cut-throat industry that was struggling to keep up with the times and, if possible, make a profit off them. Featuring a fascinating cast of characters — lofty idealists and down-and-dirty opportunists — this new book expands upon on Darnton's celebrated work on book-publishing in France, most recently found in Literary Tour de France. Pirating and Publishing reveals how and why piracy brought the Enlightenment to every corner of France, feeding the ideas that would explode into revolution.
    Zach McCulley (@zamccull) is a historian of religion and literary cultures in early modern England and PhD candidate in History at Queen's University Belfast.
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    • 51 min

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